Now, here’s a first date from hell. Imagine going out with someone for the first time and your buddies show up and decide it’s a good time to heckle you.
How would you handle it?
Before the other Jersey Reapers show up, the date nearly collapses when Neil and Lins have a disagreement over religion. Because of that, Neil decides he is no good at this dating stuff and suggests they call it a day... or a date. However, Lins is more sensible. She tells him to sit back down, says that it’s okay for people to disagree, and that reminds him that they have had fun up until that point. Neil relents and sits back down. And then...
We had a really good time after that. Dinner arrived – big, juicy bar burgers dripping with toppings, a side of fries, and because I was pretending to be healthy a side salad.
Neil may have had a prejudice against religion – specifically Christianity – but he was a nice guy. He alternated between a sort of insecure shyness and a wicked sense of humor. We talked about everything – my college experience, his lack of college experience; my crazy friends, his crazy friends; our love of music. We were having an enjoyable evening until a voice said, “So … this is what you do in your spare time, Neil!”
Three men descended upon our table.
Neil winced. “Oh, no …”
The speaker, a short pale guy with strawberry blond hair and blue eyes, sank onto a chair between us. “What is this? Some kinda date or something?”
“A date?” A tall skinny olive-skinned guy with dark hair and eyes grabbed a free chair and swung it up to the table. “Isn’t Neil on a date the first sign of the apocalypse?”
As the last guy – tall, brown-skinned, reddish brown hair, light brown eyes – collapsed onto the chair on the other side of me, Neil heaved a sigh. “Knock it off. What are you guys doing here, anyways?”
“Yankee and Joey’s wives are at a baby shower. The kids were invited, too,” the olive-skinned guy said. “Thought we’d grab a beer. So, aren’t you gonna introduce us to the lady?”
“I will if you let me.” Neil turned toward me. “Lindsay Mitchell, I’d like you to meet the other Jersey Reapers.” He indicated the guy who had spoken last. “Ben Roman, bass.” He pointed at the dark-skinned guy. “Yankee Doodle, drums.” He nodded at the pale guy. “And Joey Saks, lead guitar.”
“Pleased to meet you.” I glanced at Neil. “What do you do?”
“Rhythm guitar and lead vocals.” He turned to his bandmates. “You ought to hear Lins sing, guys. She’s amazing!”
Ben grimaced. “Oh, no … No, man. You’re not saying …”
“I’m not saying anything,” Neil replied in a tense tone. He gave Ben a pointed look. “Nothing. Okay?”
Ben shrugged. “Okay.”
“So,” Yankee said to me, “he tell you that he works in a music store?”
Neil said, “I was going to tell her, but apparently now you have.”
“He tell you he lives over the store in an efficiency apartment?” Ben offered.
“No, I haven’t told her that, either. Thank you for letting her know.”
“The man lives like a king. I think they should cut his salary.”
“Okay,” Neil complained. “Now you’ve gone too far.”
Joey grinned. “Hey, Neil, what about your –”
“We’re not going to discuss my anything!” Neil was annoyed. “This is our first date! The purpose of dating is to get to know each other a little bit at a time so you don’t scare the shit out of the other person!”
I tried not to laugh. It didn’t work.
“So, Lindsay, I take it you don’t know that when the zombie apocalypse happens Neil plans to be on the zombie side,” Ben told me.
“Moron,” Neil groaned.
Joey turned to me. “How’s the date going so far, Lins?”
“On a scale of one to ten?” I asked. “With one being ‘I want to go home’ and ten being ‘I’m calling the caterer tomorrow’?”
Laughing, Joey turned to Neil. “Hey, I like her!”
“Word,” Yankee added.
Ben leaned back in his seat. “How’d you ever convince her to go out with you? ‘Cause, you know, you got that zombie thing.”
I could see their teasing was threatening to get out of hand and that Neil was increasingly uncomfortable. “Eleven,” I said.
Four pairs of eyes landed on me.
“What?” Ben asked.
“On a scale of one to ten, the date is an eleven.”
Neil smiled slowly.
Ben stood up. “Well, in that case, we’ll just get the hell outta here.”
Joey offered me his hand and we shook. “Pleasure meeting you, Lindsay.”
“Likewise,” Yankee added.
“Let’s hit the bar.” Joey led the others off.
They were gone as quickly as they had come, swarming around the bar like three flies, laughing and joking and ordering beers.
Neil watched them for a minute. “I like the way you shut them down. I wish I could do that.”
“It’s a gift.” I only wished I could shut down some of our more irritating parishioners that easily.
Thanks for journeying through some of the scenes I love. See you on Monday!